For much of my life, I associated mornings with feelings of doom or dread. A sense of foreboding that I just couldn’t shake. The familiar pit in my stomach would kick in about 3 seconds after opening my eyes every morning. Ugh.
Because the brain learns through association, this became a pattern in my life, a conditioned response. Mornings = Dread
But, let's reframe this for a moment because mornings truly are one of THE best times to train the brain. Let me explain why.
The brain is most active and readily creative immediately following sleep. It's the perfect time to create change at the subconscious level. So, take advantage of this super stellar time and let go of dread in the morning in 3 easy, neuroplasticity-based steps:
1. Create a Thought Anchor - Before drifting off to sleep, plan out what you’re going to think and do as soon as you wake up in the morning. I call it creating a thought anchor. Make sure it's something that MAKES YOU FEEL REALLY GOOD. It can be anything:
- A time in your life you enjoyed
- A pet or loved one
- A hobby that you enjoy
- A color that you love
- A goal you want to accomplish
- A favorite song
- A cup of coffee
- A trip you’re looking forward to
- A gratitude list
If you can’t think of anything, go ahead and make it up! (The brain will create the same chemicals from a real event as it does from an imagined one.) Just pick something before you go to sleep that makes you feel good.
2. Focus on Your Thought Anchor - When you first wake up and you're in that sort of haze, immediately start thinking about your thought anchor. Put your focus on whatever you planned the night before. Picture a vacation you can't wait to take, or hugging that person or pet. Anything that makes you feel really good. Maybe you love to garden or just can’t wait for that coffee to brew. You can think of 3-5 things you are grateful for which can be as simple as the fresh air in your bedroom or the sound of nature outside. I turn to my cat every single morning and feel happy right away.
Send a cascade of good chemicals through your system for at least 60-90 seconds before you even start your day.
3. Do This Consistently - Do this consistently until feelings of dread, doom or anxiety are no longer an automatic response and the brain has created a new pattern.
Remember, you get to decide what kind of emotional state you want to create. Our thoughts create the chemicals that determine how we feel. The dreadful feelings we experience in the morning may not be based on any particular situation or life event, they are simply a result of whatever chemicals our brain is producing based on our thoughts and focus.
So don’t accept feelings of morning dread or anxiety as “just the way it is.” You are not at the mercy of your emotions and you have the unique capacity to self-direct the neuroplasticity of your own brain!
Cheering you on,
Beth Kendall MA, FNTP
Holistic Sleep Coach
Health Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
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